Once they were mighty. They could break the rocks into tiny pebbles with their bare hands. They stood tall, with irons legs and fiery breath. If they stood on their toes, they could almost touch the heavens.
Everyone of them is superhuman. They may have had flaws, but only those that accentuated the strengths.
Or, so I believed.
It was a long time back, when I was growing up in Sowpadu. I looked around and found only giants. I looked up to them and admired them.
There was Rustum, who could lift the heaviest rock outside the village. There was another giant, who silently moved in the village, who must have carried tanks full of water everyday to all the people in the village. There was this courageous woman, who cuts grass as fast as any man, and holds her own in the fields.
I remember all these people and many more, as vividly as I remember my own face.
As I grew up, as I moved out of Sowpadu ….
Now, I go back in search of them. I find broken images. I find the shells of former giants. I find them old, not the graceful old of a queen mother. But, tooth-less old. Arthritis old. Weak and old.
Once they were warriors. Once they were my people. I laughed with them, cried with them, and grew up with them. Now, on a one day trip, I talk to them. I listen to them. I even laugh with them.
Still, I am a stranger. I do not know these decrepit people. My feelings are too clinical.
The mighty rustum that lifted the rock outside our village is now operating a money-lending business. He no longer breathes fire.
That has-been beautiful girl is a mother of two, with weather beaten face with no aspirations.
The invincible woman that I admired is struggling for a loan to farm in the next season. She does not reach for heavens.
How did life escape this place? Why does the existence become a day-to-day drab affair?
I sleep on the way back. I dream that I am young again. Amidst the giants, I feel safer.
I come back. I may still be dreaming.
After such knowledge what forgiveness?
May 8, 1998.